701 e.V. – an art association of a different kind

Since its founding in 2005, the 701 association has supported and promoted Düsseldorf’s art and cultural scene with a wide variety of measures.

Named after the 701 tram line that runs right through Düsseldorf, for more than 15 years it has provided regional and international artists with exciting and ever new exhibition venues in the city and at the same time offers interesting insights into cultural and political issues that affect Düsseldorf and the Rhineland with panel discussions, art talks and film evenings. At the same time, it sees itself as a link between business and art with the aim of establishing networks, sustainably strengthening the creative image of the city and continuing to make the city and region of Düsseldorf an attractive, lively location for young art and young artists.

Among the founding members in 2005 were Jürgen Büssow, then District President and originator of the project, the late Düsseldorf Mayor Joachim Erwin, the artists Jung Me Chai and Günther Uecker, the then director of the Kunsthalle Dr. Ulrike Groos and the art consultant Helge Achenbach. Gerit Christiani, then Head of the Department of Culture, Düsseldorf District Government, and the artists Gotthard Graubner, Jörg Immendorff and Tamara K.E. were involved in the conceptualisation.

With Werner Wimmer, former spokesman of the board of the Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank, as the first chairman of the board of 701 e.V., and Wolfgang Westphälinger, then partner at Ernst & Young, as the first managing director of 701 gGmbH, two experienced and art-minded Düsseldorfers guided the fortunes of the association in its first 10 years.

Today, Dr. Michael Leistikow (former partner of Hogan Lovells International LLP) as Chairman of the Board, Detmar Westhoff (Westhoff Fine Arts) as Deputy Chairman of the Board, Jürgen Büssow (former District President of Düsseldorf) as Honorary Chairman, as well as Marcel Abel (Managing Director Jones Lang LaSalle SE), Dr. Astrid Legge (Curator Provinzial Rheinland Versicherung), Alexandra Iwan (PR + Press Agency Textschwester) and Dr. Axel Zitzmann support the association’s work with a varied programme and great commitment. The management is in the hands of Heike Sturm.

From the beginning, the association aroused great public interest and media attention with its unconventional programme at ever-changing exhibition venues. It has always convinced not only the participating artists but also its members and sponsors. The accompanying documentation of the exhibitions in the form of catalogues reflects the varied history of the exhibitions and is still an important support for all participating artists with regard to their further artistic careers.

One of the highlights of the long exhibition history is certainly the exhibition series Regarding Düsseldorf curated by Pia Witzmann, which for 6 years took a look at the very young Düsseldorf art scene at different venues and presented a generation of artists that attracted attention far beyond the region.

With Autopilot curated by the artist group KONSORTIUM (2005) in the Gerry Weber Halle Düsseldorf, Nach dem Sputnik curated by Helga Meister (2007) in the KIT- Kunst im Tunnel, Vom Gehen in vielen Richtungen curated by Gabriele Orsech and Bernd Ruzicska (2009) in the KIT, Sunbeam in the Glasshouse curated by Julia Ritterskamp (2011) at the former American Consulate General, BLENDED GENERATIONS curated by Pia Witzmann and Gregor Jansen (2014) at the Kö-Bogen, Reflexionen – Ortsspezifische Arbeiten im ehemaligen Franziskanerkloster (2015) curated by Michael Voets, Strauss ist raus curated by Wilko Austermann (2017) at the former Strauss branch, THRESHOLDS, a performance festival at the Golzheimer Friedhof curated by Nadia Ismail (2019), FABRIC OF ART curated by Astrid Legge, Jon Moscow, Bettina Paust, Raimund Stecker and Pia Witzmann at the former Kaiser & Dicke ribbon weaving factory in Wuppertal (2019), Es kippelt, aber wann curated by Julia Ritterskamp (2020) at the Alte Kämmerei Düsseldorf and our current exhibition series space4art intervention#fürnkäs curated by Astrid Legge at HPP Headquarters in Medienhafen were followed by other major exhibitions.

In addition, the association launched a broad program of events, including panel discussions with guests from politics, business and culture, film evenings or the series ‘Gespräche zur Kunst’ (Talks on Art) with cultural-political topics that affect Düsseldorf and the Rhineland as well as a series of digital discussions with internationally active artists under the motto “Global Voices of Art”.